La Trinite race and return cruise 13th to 28th June. One place due to cancellation –offer £750 to include return cruise–15 days sailing.
New RYA courses June and end of July–only needs 3 days off work and you will see some of Cowes week
Updated 2nd May2013
May Bank Holiday was our first Royal Ocean Racing Club race to Le Havre and in winds up to F7 we set off well and had a fast crossing. Towards the finish the wind dropped to F2 and we slowed down but still finished 13th out of 35 in class and picked up 100 NM of the 300 needed before the Fastnet.
We turned straight round and sailed back as the forecast was for the wind to die and fog to develop. After a good run we popped into Cowes and had a good meal out before spinnaker practice on Sunday.
The last weekend in April saw the JOG race to Owers (off Selsey Bill) and we came 2nd in one of our most exciting races yet. Exocet who beat us into 2nd place both ways in the Cherbourg and return race chased us for over 30 miles but finished 50 yards behind.
The races are all filling but One Fastnet place has become available.
Courses are not filling as well as we would like and this is the same for most schools. We continue to do early booking promotions and ‘bundles’. If you want to build miles you can always just sail rather than do the RYA qualifications and we will do the odd special particularly if you have sailed with us before.
Cruises have quite a few enquiries, mainly from regulars and if things follow previous years we will get a sudden rush of bookings.
PayPal--you can pay by PayPal –we prefer you don’t as it costs 3.4% but it does allow you to use a credit card which means you would get your money back if we went bankrupt. I know we won’t but if you are new to us and worried about security please use it for your first booking.
I will be skippering Helsal 3 for the Sydney to Hobart and a few places are available–drop me an e-mail or phone to register interest. The cost will be $6250 with an early booking offer of $500 off. it is expensive but better value than the competition and we have an outstanding Yacht. several places have already been booked by last year’s team members.
The first Saturday in March gave some splendid sailing in the morning and we tacked up the western Solent in sunshine with the tide. Then we headed up Southampton water and hoisted the code Zero—officially a spinnaker but really a giant Genoa , which we can get to fly 40 degrees off the apparent wind.
As we started to accelerate away from Calshot Spit we heard a ‘Pan Pan’ from Capability a yacht by Calshot who had a Man Overboard. Whilst it was only a ‘Pan Pan’ I treated the call as a ‘Mayday’ as I think someone falling into really cold water fulfils the criteria of ‘Grave and imminent danger’. We dropped the Code Zero, turned round and started to motor back towards them but as we came close were relieved to hear they had recovered the casualty and he was OK. The Coastguard had already tasked the Hamble lifeboat and as we were released to continue we saw it coming out of the Hamble.
Offer on D-Day trip and you can do Competent Crew on it as well.
Despite the economic gloom and absence of a summer 2012 was a good year for Wild Spirit. Our big race was Round Ireland and this, plus a few other reasonable results, meant we finished 8th out of 90 in Class 4 of the Royal Ocean Racing Club. The six week cruise round Ireland had mixed weather but we had a marvellous time, met some lovely people, saw lots of tall ships, went to amazing places and even sailed under a cable car.
The Wild Spirits who sailed with me on ‘Kioni’ for our cruise out to Lord Howe Island and back (400NM due East of Australia) encountered some of the toughest conditions I have sailed in but came through.
As well as races we had several cruises and the level of repeat bookings remains high. RYA courses did not always fill as quickly as we hoped and it is clear we are competing against some companies who appear cheaper but have significant hidden extras, plus do not fully comply with RYA requirements. We will continue to do it properly, and we will continue with our ‘Easyjet’ marketing policy of reductions for early bookings.
Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race 2012
The weather in Sydney seemed even hotter than usual leading up to Christmas and in the mid 30s with high humidity I wished several times to be back in Somerset. Christmas day was however wet, fairly cold and much more like being at home. A former Wild Spirit now racing on a Volvo 60 had invited me and 2 other of the team on Kioni to Christmas lunch and we gratefully accepted. Kioni a French built First 47.7 was my Yacht for the 2012 Sydney to Hobart race and my first start as Skipper. The team of 14 were mainly Aussies with one Ukrainian, and 2 of the Wild Spirit UK racing team.
Training had been badly affected by repair work on board plus having to wait for spares to arrive, so this meant for the Boxing Day start we were not as well prepared as we would have liked. We were however a cohesive team, so although only one other member had completed a Sydney Hobart before I was confident that we would make it. I had already sailed with several of the team out to Lord Howe Island and back but unfortunately one of them, Ross, had been killed in an air crash a in late November. Ross had climbed mountains around the world and explored Antarctica, he wore ancient orange Oilskins from an early expedition. He had been going to do the race with his son Ben. Ross’s place had now been filled by his Son’s friend; both were called Ben and both were Aussie Commandos just back from Afghanistan; fit, fearless and great team players, all they lacked was sailing experience.
Boxing Day dawned fine and warm, the forecast was reasonable and all of a sudden the media mayhem was underway. As Sailors from England we have trouble understanding this as yacht racing in Britain just doesn’t hit the public imagination like it does in Oz. The Sydney Hobart is one of the top 3 sporting events of the year in Oz, a quarter of a million people turn out for the start with Millions more watching on TV.
There were only 2 school boats in the race and we were one, so we attracted some media attention and I did a couple of TV interviews, then they realized we had 2 Commandos on board and the throng became a blockage in the Marina. In Britain we quietly appreciate the contribution of our armed forces; the Aussies do it without the quietly bit! I set off slightly early to the start to escape the media distraction and let the team focus on the race plus practice a few things we hadn’t yet mastered.
We had agreed on a ‘safe’ start, which meant being a minute late over the line, not as spectacular as some, but in a 628 Nautical mile race it seemed a good move. The start was fast and furious and we had a good position right at the windward edge of the 80 strong fleet as we sped across Sydney Harbour, helicopters drowning out all communication. Leaving the Harbour through the Heads we hit the big Pacific swell and our 15 tons and 47 feet length gave us a clear advantage over the lighter yachts that would be faster in flat seas.
We beat on south for 7 hours until the first watch and then settled into the system of ‘sleep’ and work which would dominate the next 4 days. The weather was kinder than the last 2 years and we made good progress for several hours before the wind died; now our 15 tons were a disadvantage and for 9 hours the lighter yachts went past. Then the wind came back and from the Northeast so we were off towards Bass Strait under Spinnaker and making great progress until the largest spinnaker disintegrated forcing us to change to a smaller ‘Storm Spinnaker’.
Sydney Hobart races always have ‘a bit of a blow’ and as were about 30 miles into Bass Strait the wind picked up to over 30 kts, the instruments failed, the alternator stopped charging the batteries and a considerable amount of water appeared in the boat. I delayed the decision to abandon the race, we bailed and pumped, Phil and Greg successfully battled with the alternator and as we passed the half way mark we were determined we would finish.
About 100 miles north of Tasman Island we were changing helms when Aussie Bruce, a fairly large, stereotypical Aussie Farmer fell on me and the wheel breaking 2 of the spokes, I will not repeat what he said, but we now had to treat the helm very carefully as if another spoke went we would not be able to steer.
We beat on down towards Tasmania and heard a weather forecast of ‘South West winds will reach gale force’. Not a problem for us and difficult for some of our competitors, we were well positioned and looking good but definitely sailing in South East winds. We consoled ourselves that the 90 degree wind change would soon come but it was at least 12 hours late and we had a lot of extra Tacks to put in before rounding Tasman Island on the S.E. corner of Tasmania about 1100 on the 30th December.
We had been pursuing ‘Aurora’ whose skipper Jim Holley was completing his 25th Sydney Hobart and just as we rounded Tasman Island we overtook them. He the tacked in close but John my number 2 was adamant we would be better going on for several miles before tacking due to local tide effects. We went straight on and as we looked back we could see how right John was as by the time they had realized their mistake we were a mile ahead.
Now we had to cross the ‘Bay of Storms’ and according to the weather forecast we should be doing this in a Gale that had come over a 1000 miles across the Southern Ocean from the Antarctic. Fortunately the forecast was again wrong and at times the wind was so light we had trouble sailing at all.
The final 20 miles up the Derwent River to Hobart looks simple but it has notoriously fickle winds and we had to work hard to make up about a mile and one place over 4 hours. At one stage we were virtually stationary in the wind shadow of Mount Wellington as the competitor we had overtaken crept up to within 100 metres, then just as he hit the wind shadow and stopped we were suddenly off again.
We finished in the early evening and the ‘Taste of Tasmania’ festival was well underway on the edge of the Harbour. Although we were the 57th Yacht home we did our lap of Honor to loud and sustained applause from over a 1000 people, a moving and uplifting moment made poignant by the sight of Ben wearing his dead father’s ancient Oilskins. We finished 5th out of 16 in Division and I was immensely proud of the team, the effort they had put in and the way they had pulled together without a single cross word in the whole race.
As I type this I am sitting on a sheep station in Gundagai owned by one of the crew. With no rain for 6 weeks and 41C plus strong winds we are on maximum fire alert and spent the morning making a small fire engine out of a 900 litre tank, a pump and a 4 by 4 ‘Ute’.
The nearest settlement is Nangus where the combined store and pub, an open tin hut and patio area surrounded by 1.5 m high tin fencing, is called the ‘Turkey Pen’ as whenever anyone gets near the heads of the customers all come up over the top of the fence like Turkeys.
Skipper Kioni Sydney to Hobart Race 2012
We have just spent over £5000 on a new racing main and spinnaker plus commissioned other works to ensure Wild Spirit remains a fast desirable cruiser on which to race, cruise and learn to sail.
The Annual Charity weekend raised over £1000 for St Magaret’s Hospice Taunton and we were blessed by superb weather and wind. On Saturday we achieved 10.9kts SOG going out through Hurst down to the Needles with a complete novice on the helm.
Hard of Earing
So there we were waiting for the start of the race back from Poole to Cowes on a sunny September morning but with no wind, I had just taken my annual swim in the sea when the Ch16 call came through.
Caller ‘Portland Coastguard, are there any dive boats in shell bay’
CG ‘ For routine safety traffic go Channel 67′
Caller ‘This is not routine, I have dropped an ear ring in shell bay and need a dive boat’
The rest of the call was drowned by the team laughing. Shortly afterwards we were off and completed the course of approx 26NM in under 2hrs 55mins to finish 9th out of 25 entrants. A superb spinnaker run of almost 20NM making it one of the most memorable races this year.
2013 programme on its own page–after missing a year the D-Day beaches trip returns.
Updated updated 21st April 2013